Dublin dog walker spared jail after Staffordshire bull terrier ripped nesting swan apart
Philip Flynn (61) had been walking two Staffordshire bull terriers. One of them ‘broke loose and set upon a swan in the Royal Canal’
A grandfather has been spared jail for failing to control an unmuzzled Staffordshire bull terrier which "ripped the whole side" off a swan nesting in the Royal Canal in Dublin.
Philip Flynn (61) of Friary Court, Dublin 7, pleaded guilty to an offence under the Animal Health and Welfare Act.
Dublin Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (DSPCA) inspector Tony McGovern told Judge Anthony Halpin that the incident happened at Whitworth Road, along the Royal Canal on April 1, 2020.
Dublin District Court heard the female swan about to lay eggs, and a male swan had been nesting in the area at the time.
The inspector told Judge Anthony Halpin that a concerned member of the public notified the DSPCA, and he went to the scene. Gardaí were also called.
The court heard the prosecution case was that Flynn had been walking two Staffordshire bull terriers.
One of them "broke loose and set upon a swan in the canal".
The court heard the leash had snapped, and the DSPCA officer believed it could not hold the dog.
Judge Halpin noted that it was one of 12 restricted breeds under the control of dog regulations and must be muzzled and kept on a leash in public.
Although small, they were "quite strong"; in this case, the dog should have been on a stronger short leash.
The DSPCA inspector recalled seeing the swan on the canal "slumped across the lock", and he noticed "the whole side ripped from the swan".
It was rushed to a vet but had to be euthanised.
The court heard Flynn had no prior convictions and made full admissions after the incident.
Defence counsel Seosaimhín Ní Chathasaigh told the court Flynn did not own the dogs, which belonged to another person, but he brought them for a walk.
The barrister said he tried to restrain the one that attacked the swan, which resulted in him getting injured too, and he was apologetic.
"I was trying to get the dog away from the swan when the dog bit me," he told the court.
Counsel said Flynn had previously had a long-term drug problem, and he began abusing heroin when he was 15, but he is now free of all illicit substances. Pleading for leniency, the barrister outlined his health problems and asked the court not to impose a period of imprisonment.
Noting the dog had been surrendered to an animal pound, Judge Halpin described the breed as ‘bullies’ and said they should be trained to obey commands.
From the photos of the injuries, he said the swan would not have been able to look after its cygnet had it gone full term.
An aggravating factor was that if the dog had a muzzle, it would not have resulted in the swan's death. However, he held the mitigating factors outweighed the aggravating ones and did not jail Flynn.
Instead, he convicted and fined him €500, and ordered him to pay €300 toward the DSPCA's expenses within six months.
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